Through a New Lens

Through a New Lens

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Something that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately is how all art (and all of life at that) revolves solely around the balance of energy. Energy of course translates easily across mediums. A low note from an organ correlates directly to a dancer moving slowly across the floor, keeping grounded and solid the whole time. A bright streak of orange across a canvas translates immediately to a bright flair of chords across the piano, and the dancer's dive-roll across the stage is in itself a musical short stop, a great crescendo leading into a near silence… Thinking of art in this way, we can begin to easily see the connections between our various disparate forms of expression, and thereby come to terms with even deeper relationships buried within our own practices.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been trying to expand my skill sets across the board recently, and thanks to a bit of encouragement I’ve been continuing my work in learning about photography, and have recently been aiming to work closer with dance & photography. Photographing a building is one thing, but photographing a dancer in motion is an entirely different sort of business. Thanks to the fact that there’s always something interesting happening here at Juilliard, I was able to get into a rehearsal this Saturday for a piece a dear friend of mine is setting and try my hand at snapping a few shots. There are of course (as with any art-form) the technical aspects. Deciding which lens I’m going to use, balancing out my ISO with shutter speed and aperture, and getting my angles right. (Not to mention all the work that goes into post-production.) But more difficult than anything else is choosing at exactly which second to hit the shutter button. In a dance with so much going on at once, I find that I have to use a huge amount of intuition to find the perfect moment to capture a scene. It’s in this process that I start to see deeper into dance and choreography, which of course are my primary pursuits here at Juilliard.

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As a photographer, I let my eye follow its instinct, and the camera then follows suit. Seeing how a piece is set up, and how different moments and people stand out from the background blur of motion is hugely helpful to me as a developing dance maker. After all, each moment is simply a stream of thousands of individual images, rushing past each other and thereby creating the illusion of motion.  Photographing dance, I find myself becoming hyper-aware of each individual's unique stage presence. I realize that every step, every look, and every turn of the shoulder counts towards a larger whole. The greatest stories are comprised of a million small happenings, and looking through the lens serves to further remind me of that incredible effect.

 

On that note, I would encourage you all to go out into the world and witness for yourself how everything connects to absolutely everything else! I often feel that perhaps we have discovered all there is to know. That we have pushed technique to its limits, and that from here on out it’s all just recycling. I’m happy to be reminded that that is simply not the case. For each of us there is a myriad of discoveries to make, and infinite mysteries to uncover. So go! Live your life in ways you never thought possible, and for it reap the rewards!

 

Thanks so much for reading, and be sure to check out the posts from some of the other great bloggers!

 

~Alexander Sargent~

Juilliard Dance 2020

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